The Caring Force Blog March Workforce Hero: Sandy Cummins

The Caring Force is excited to announce that our March Workforce Hero is Sandy Cummins, the Director of Residential Services at TILL, Inc. Starting at an entry level position after college, Sandy is now responsible for watching over 58 separate group homes. Every day, she makes certain they are well staffed, well managed and operating safely. Sandy’s colleagues described her as “a center of calm and clarity” and “committed to the quality of life and growth of each person” in her care. She was also described as having an innate knowledge of the work that goes into the quality and care to support TILL’s residential programs. Sandy’s leadership has been crucial for TILL as they navigate the challenges of providing services a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.

We asked Sandy about her incredible work:

Tell us about your background. How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

“Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed working with others as a teacher. I have a large family and and was able to experience acting as a mentor and teacher for my younger siblings when I was a teenager. I went to college and studied psychology and education because the classes interested me. When I was close to graduation, I saw an ad for TILL and sent my resume. At that time, I was not sure if I wanted to pursue a career in psychology or teaching. I decided that it would be best to work for a while and see which direction I was drawn to. Working for TILL has been the best graduate education I could have asked for. In my many jobs with TILL over the past 25 years, I have been able to act in both the educational and psychological worlds while working with many different people. The individuals I have had the experience of working with have taught me more than I could have ever learned in school, not only about working in the field, but also about myself. I have been fortunate to have been able to start my career as a direct care staff member and to add to my skills as a trainer, mentor, manager, and now a director.  I cannot think of another career where I would have been able to learn so many diverse skills and had as many opportunities to grow as I have had in the human services field with TILL.”

What is your favorite professional memory?

“In my 25 years with TILL, I cannot possibly pick one favorite memory. I have been fortunate to have had so many wonderful memories with the individuals I have known, from vacations, parties, and special events to tough times that have brought us all together. I am most proud of the time I have spent with the individuals I serve and the pleasure I have had seeing them succeed and grow in their lives. I am also very proud of the co-workers I have been fortunate to work with who have also grown and taken on new challenges in their lives. It is the people I have gotten to work with that have made my career satisfying and fun. I plan to keep making many great memories!”

It’s been a year since the pandemic arrived, how have you coped with the challenges?

“This COVID challenge has changed so much in our day-to-day lives. At work, our strong team has come together as we always do and we have created new ways of ensuring that life does not stop for the individuals we serve. We have joined for treasure hunts at multiple stores finding paper towels, TP and hand sanitizer. Staff have jumped in to make sure our homes are covered and the individuals are safe and happy. TILL has an incredible recreation event known as April Madness, which had to go on virtually for the first time ever, but everyone has worked together to make it wonderful and fun for all. We have been learning about Zoom and YouTube and sharing time with each other through videos and phone calls. Families have been sending fun care packages to be sure everyone has something new to do. Staff have taken individuals out to share Hello signs with friends from afar. I could not be more proud of the team we have for how well this difficult time has been made positive. It is true that in difficult times, you find the heroes. I feel fortunate to be working with so many!”

Thank you to Sandy and all the other tireless staff helping to provide services to clients and families throughout the pandemic. You are the Commonwealth’s human services heroes. 

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